SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and Goleta Valley Community Hospital in Santa Barbara are examining a possible merger or affiliation. The transaction could conservatively save $4 million in combined operating costs and enhance community care, a spokeswoman for Cottage Hospital said. Official discussions began after several months of talks between trustees and administration of both not-for-profit hospitals. A final decision will probably not come before year-end, she said. Cottage is a 465-bed acute-care teaching hospital that employs 1,500 and has an annual budget of $117 million. Goleta Valley Community, with an annual operating budget of $26 million, is licensed for 130 acute-care beds and employs 400.
PHOENIX-Federal officials say they have no problem with Arizona's handling of Medicaid funds for hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of needy patients. Distribution of such funds became a campaign issue in July when a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, Eddie Basha, accused Gov. Fife Symington of shorting hospitals while using some of the money to help the state budget. Mr. Symington and Maricopa County officials denied the allegation. "The methodology for this program appears to be reasonable and is allowable under the provisions of the federal program," said Lawrence L. McDonough, associate regional administrator for HCFA. Since 1991, the state has transmitted the federal money to the hospitals. As a result, hospitals got additional funds while stress on the state budget was reduced. Mr. Basha had asked U.S. Attorney Janet Napolitano to investigate the funds swap. She forwarded the request to the agency.
LAS VEGAS-Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center recently opened a new home health agency. The Sunrise Home Health Agency was developed as a response to demands for home healthcare services in the Las Vegas area. The agency, which is licensed by the state of Nevada and certified by Medicare and Medicaid, provides staffing services, physical, speech, occupational and rehabilitative home care for Sunrise patients. Costs associated with the development of the home-care agency weren't disclosed. The agency is one of several new projects the hospital has developed in its effort to become a fully integrated healthcare system, executives said.